April 16, 2021 – With the number of COVID cases rising at an alarming rate, the Ontario’s Big City Mayors (OBCM) caucus is encouraging all Ontarians who are eligible to get vaccinated as soon as they are eligible. Additionally, the caucus is urging residents to stay home and refrain from travelling outside of their areas. The caucus recognizes that this has been a long and challenging year for everyone and we are grateful for the efforts and sacrifices of Ontarians thus far, however now is the time to make a strong final collective effort.
Focusing on Mental Health and Addictions Supports
The pandemic has highlighted the pressing need for more mental health and addictions supports for residents across the province. Today, the OBCM caucus affirmed its commitment to finding long-term solutions in partnership with all levels of government and local service providers.
At today’s caucus meeting, the Mayors received an update from the Mental Health Working Committee which has been tasked with leading this work. Committee co-chairs, Mayor Darrin Canniff of Chatham-Kent and Mayor Marianne Meed Ward of Burlington are leading the work to develop specific recommendations to the provincial government.
“We have heard from residents time and time again that support is not there to address mental health and addictions challenges. As a caucus we are taking action to drive positive changes forward so that residents can access supports when they need them,” said Mayor Jeff Lehman, Chair of the OBCM. “We look forward to working closely with the mental health and addictions community and the provincial government as we develop our recommendations.”
At its caucus meeting, OBCM also discussed the need for stronger consequences for Councillors who flagrantly violate the Municipal Code of Conduct.
The Caucus passed the following motion at the April 16, 2021 OBCM meeting:
Municipal Code of Conduct
Moved by Mayor Watson (Ottawa)
Seconded by Mayor Guthrie (Guelph)
Whereas currently the Municipal Act 2001, provides limited actions towards Members of Council who have violated their respective Council Codes of Conduct; and
Whereas there have been several examples in Ontario of Members of Council acting with deliberate and total disregard for any of the principles and values outlined in their respective Council Code of Conduct and the workplace policies proclaimed by Council; and
Whereas AMO has adopted a four-point position that includes allowing a judicial removal of a Member of Council at the recommendation of a municipal Integrity Commissioner in instances of egregious or repeated violations of a Council Code of a Conduct;
Therefore be it resolved that OBCM take the position that there be stronger consequences for flagrant violations of a Council Code of Conduct by a Member of Council, including but not limited to removal of office; and
Be it further resolved that OBCM write to the Honourable Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, and Honourable Jill Dunlop, Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues seeking revisions to the Municipal Act, 2001 that would provide for the vacating of the seat of a member of council who has been found on clear and convincing evidence to have committed serious misconduct, including any definitions necessary for the implementation of such a provision; and
Be it further resolved that these revisions consider allowing a Council or a municipal Integrity Commissioner to refer a Code of Conduct Violator to the court for a judicial hearing or an arm’s length, non-political third party to address the potential removal from office of a Member of Council, similar to the current process with respect to attest relating to the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act.
About Ontario’s Big City Mayors
Ontario’s Big City Mayors (OBCM), formerly known as the Large Urban Mayors’ Caucus of Ontario, includes mayors of 29 single and lower-tier cities with a population of 100,000 or more, who collectively represent nearly 70 per cent of Ontario’s population. OBCM advocates for issues and policies important to Ontario’s largest cities.
Mayor Jeff Lehman, Chair